Jim Mora met with the media after Thursday's practice. The Bruins' typical schedule is that Thursday is the last full practice of the week. The team will do a light workout and walkthrough on Friday before traveling to Tucson.
Today's comments began with injury updates. It sounds like Jordan James and Simon Goines will not be playing this weekend. Mora said he hadn't decided for sure but thought they would hold those two out. Steven Manfro is definitely out for this weekend. Fabian Moreau may not be at 100% but will be ready to play on Saturday. Jerry Neuheisel should be able hold for placekicks after having "a little procedure" (i.e., surgery) on the thumb on his right hand. That's his throwing hand so it will be dressed and splinted. Our friend Chris Foster at the LAT quoted Coach Mazzone yesterday
He's a couple weeks from being able to throw," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "He just can't put the pressure on the football.
Presumably he can catch a snap and has been practicing holds this week. Hopefully he'll get a lot of reps on PAT's Saturday.
The concern over Jerry's thumb led to an interesting discussion on the back up quarterback for Saturday. Jerry has been the number 2 all year, so Ed Lewis asked Mora directly, "Is Mike Fafaul your backup?" Mora was less than direct with his response.
Uhhh (shrugs)...I don't know. I mean, I do know. I do know. Yeah. You just don't get to know. (laughs) How about that? You'll see when you get there.
Mora followed by saying that Devin Fuller was not moving back to QB and admitted it would either be Fafaul, Woulard, or RSFr Jake Hall. Mora's nonanswer makes me wonder whether Asiantii Woulard would take off his redshirt in an emergency? Let's hope that the only backup QB we see this weekend is Fafaul in mop up duty in the 4th quarter.
Luckily for the Bruins, the depth issues on the offensive line aren't as alarming as at QB, so the loss of Simon Goines and Torian White on the has hurt, but the Bruins have been able to cover for that better. Mora discussed the effect of injuries on the OL and the development of the unit since his arrival.
We've been playing without [James and Goines] and we've been doing fine, so the next guys step up and do well. I'm excited about where our offensive line is anyway, so that's a good deal
They've done well. They've gotten better every week. And I think they'll continue to get better just the more playing time. When you're talented and you work hard if you get repetitions you typically get better and that's what I see out of those guys. I think that, you know, the real positive is that...we're building tremendous depth at that position which is a position that we need to have depth at as you all know. The cupboard was pretty bare when we got here. I think Jake (Brendel) was here. X wasn't. Torian, yeah, but he hadn't played. We're building a pretty good offensive line here. I think it's gonna be fun to watch in the future.
Some of the talk wandered back to last season's meeting with Arizona which saw the debut of U.C.L.A.'s LA Nights jerseys, Johnathan Franklin set the school's all-time rushing record, and the Bruins won in a blowout at the Rose Bowl. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez watched that game film this week. Mora said all coaches look at films from previous games, especially if the coaching staff's remain intact, in order to scout the opposition and their tendencies, and that it wasn't a surprise.
It's absolutely typical. You do it every year. That's how you prepare for your opponent.
You don't look at the score. You look at schemes and how they're trying to attack you or how they're trying to defend you or what things they do that give you problems.
You have to look at a game in continuity to decide how you did. We look at technique, maybe alterations in their scheme that they've done versus us that they don't do versus others. You're looking at it from a practical matter from a play-by-play schematic matter. You're not looking at the score.
I think it can give you a little bit of added motivation early in a game, maybe in your preparation. But once the ball is kicked off and you start playing it's still about execution doing your job and protecting the football. I really think it always comes down to that. I think a lot of that as the game goes on kind of dissipates and it just turns back into football.
You love having great players on your team and players that people respect. Players aren't afraid of other players. If they were afraid of other players they wouldn't be playing. He's just a great player I think everyone respects. We're lucky to have him.
The talk turned to some great discussion on Ellis McCarthy and his progress this season on the field and on the scale. The last part is great and it won't do justice to transcribe, so just start watching the video at 6:05.
Mora was pleased with how EFM has played this year and suggests that EFM is really starting to come into his own.
He's had a good year. He's gotten better every week. He was doing some good things early. It's interesting when you play that position, he plays a little bit of nose, but he plays DE. In our scheme, it's not a position where you're gonna get a tremendous amount of statistics. The things that you do well are kind of hidden, they don't up on paper. Now he got a sack last week, but he's just been good all year. And now he seems to even have taken it to a different level, kind of asserting himself a little bit more and it's great to see. It kinda clicks for everybody at a different time. We knew that Ellis had a lot of talent. He's had to fight through some knee injuries last year and really even through fall camp. So I'm just happy to see him playing the way he is. And even last week, I wasn't sure during the week how effective he was going to be or how many snaps we were going to get out of him but he's fighting through it. It's great.
On that point about stats, part of our DL's job is to keep the offensive line off of our linebackers so they can move and make plays, and the success by Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt in the middle this season has been a testament to that. We have also started seeing EFM show up in the offensive backfield a bit more, too, which is a great sign of his ability to not just hold his spot but to beat the OL or get into gaps. He's going to be a beast, but the Bruins will need a big game from him, along with Cassius Marsh, Kenny Clark and the rest of the DL this weekend if they plan on slowing down Arizona's excellent rushing attack. They did it last year. From Foster
Carey has 12 consecutive 100-yard rushing games. The last team to hold him under 100 yards was UCLA in 2012. Carey had 54 yards in 16 carries in a 66-10 Bruins victory.
Mora didn't put too much stock in that.
"We got the lead early," Mora said. "They had to throw more than they wanted."